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“I believe that hip-hop can make social change only if the people listening also grow” – In Conversation with Kinari

Kinari, earlier known as Finsta, is a Delhi-based queer rapper. Her artistry boasts of being unapologetically authentic and a quite unseen nonchalant nature while she is in her element. With projects like Jimmy Vogue and Queerbops, Kinari has found her audience thanks to the unique cadence her music possesses. The undying strive to not be a part of the crowd seems perennial in her artistry. In our conversation with the Kinari, we spoke about her style, creative process, experiences being a queer rapper and a lot more.

1. First off, Why the transition from Finsta to Kinari? Does that foreshadow something?
‘Kinari’ is the grammatical feminine version of the word ‘kinnar’, and my debut album releasing April 7th is called ‘KATTAR KINNAR’.

Since when have you been into rap music? How did you start practising it?
I have been listening to hip-hop since I was young, and sometimes, it’s the best way for me to express myself. I will not choose it over other musical styles because hip-hop, for me, is one way of expressing myself, along with gaana music item numbers and other genres.

Your pieces boast of supreme confidence. How do you think your expression and cadence influence the music?
When I’m performing live, I usually begin with playful banter and engage with my audience, and I think this translates to my lyrics as well. I make music that I love to make and listen to. Personally speaking, I will keep doing this regardless of whether the industry accepts it or celebrates it.

What is your creative process? How do you make your music?
I started recording my music with an Android phone and a small laptop. I tend to work with the rhythms of gaana songs merged with the beats of drums I hear in Delhi. Gaana is a genre of music common in Chennai, that is essentially performed by the Dalit community, and I’m deeply inspired by the way it makes people get up and dance.

What is your goal with music? Like setting what benchmark would make you feel successful as a musician?
My album launch gig at Delhi’s Nehru Social was a milestone moment because one of my biggest inspirations, the one and only celebrated mujra dancer Khushi Shaikh Ji, opened for me with a stunning performance. She’s one of my biggest inspirations, and this collaboration between rap and mujra was extremely groundbreaking, quite apart from being a spectacular show. So now it feels like the only way is up. In addition to that, a couple of months ago, I won the Toto Music Award for 2023, which was pretty meaningful and just a fun night in general.

Being a queer rapper, How do you feel about the community? What is your experience like? Is there specific disregard or neglect as such?
So far, I’ve found that the main difficulty is not being a transgender woman in the music industry but, in fact, the overarching experience of living as a transgender woman in Delhi. My advice is to stay close to music and don’t lose faith.
Also, I believe that hip-hop can make social change only if the people listening also grow. MC Altaf kehte hain “Sunta hiphop toh accha insan ban / Dukhte musafir ki madad ka haath ban / Marne se pehle kuch aise vo kaam kar”.

Tell us about your plans. What do we get to see from your side this year?
My debut album ‘KATTAR KINNAR’ is releasing on April 7th, and I’m going to go on my first multi-city tour this summer, where I’ll also be collaborating with a variety of other artists and not necessarily only other rappers! I also want to curate and organise more Meethaworlds (my trans-centric hip-hop dance party series) not only in Delhi but in as many other locations as possible.

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